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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Buying the Best College Brand
I'm no MBA graduate but I've always been fascinated by branding. How do we decide what is cool? How do marketing and ad executives preempt-or indeed drive-that decision? How much of it is pure luck?

There was a time, for instance, when all portable listening devices were attached to black headphone cords. When Apple introduced the iPod, they made the ingenious decision to sell it with white headphone cords. Never mind my clunky Discman, I wanted white ear buds.

Even if you're too young to appreciate life before the iWorld, you catch my drift. Is Apple really better?

The analogy doesn't travel seamlessly to college, of course. Much fun as it is to sneeze at the snobbery of the Ivies, those schools do have world-class facilities, celebrated faculty, and high-quality education. Still, that doesn't mean that other colleges don't serve as perfectly good conduits to a successful future.

A recent NY Times Blog article does a nice job of illustrating the challenge of choice for parents and students. Do you follow the scholarship, the experience, or the name? NY Times Blog

I'm not sure what the answer is. I know people who have turned down full scholarships to lower-tier schools (and I don't like that term) in favor of paying the full costs of a more prestigious school. I went to a well-known college, and I like to think I got a good education. Did going to a brand name school permanently change the trajectory of my life? I don't think so.

A friend of mine recently joked that if the CIA ever needed help locating someone, they should enlist the help of her university's alumni association. I tend to agree. My alma mater just called me on my cell phone - an unlisted number I didn't even get until 15 years after I graduated. (They're looking for donations, of course).

It's a tough decision. Whatever you do, make sure you're buying the brand for the right reasons.


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